The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is a federal law enacted in 1974 to protect the privacy of student education records.

FERPA designates students as the owners of their educational records. Students have these primary rights under FERPA:

  • to inspect and review the student’s education records;
  • to consent to disclosure of the student’s education records to third parties, except to the extent that FERPA authorizes disclosure without consent;
  • to request amendment of the student’s education records to ensure that they are not inaccurate or misleading, or otherwise in violation of the student’s privacy rights under FERPA; to be notified of the student’s privacy rights under FERPA;
  • to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education concerning alleged failures by the University to comply with the requirements of FERPA.

UT Dallas is the custodian of student educational records. It is our responsibility to protect student information, and ensure that it is not disclosed without student signed consent.

Protecting Confidential Information

It is our responsibility to validate the identity of an individual before disclosing educational records.

When leaving your desk, lock your computer/laptop. Protect your mobile devices accordingly. While working at your desk, position computer screens away from others or use a privacy screen. Put away or flip over paper documents with protected information when someone comes to your desk.

A class roster with student information should not be circulated.

Do not give a student’s schedule to anyone other than the student, and do not help anyone find a student on campus. Contact campus police for assistance at X2222 if you have someone trying to locate one of our students on campus.

Never give out confidential information over the phone or fax. There may be some exceptions to provide information through teleconferences/telephone. See Use of Digital Platform within the Remote Learning section below for further information.

Email

Please use your university provided email, @utdallas.edu, when sending email to the Registrar’s Office, students, or other campus entities.

Never email FERPA-protected information or send attachments with confidential information to a non-UT Dallas email like Gmail, iCloud, or Yahoo, unless you encrypt it. Do not list FERPA-protected information in the email’s Subject line, even if the email is encrypted.

Grades

Grades should never be emailed to students. Students need to check their grades in Orion or eLearning.

Grades should not be publicly posted using any portion of SSN or UTD ID or any other personally identifiable information. If you have a circumstance needing other options, please contact the Office of the Registrar at [email protected] (or [email protected]) for assistance.

Graded tests/assignments should not be left in a stack to be sorted and picked up by students.

Graded tests/assignments should not be given to student volunteers to return.

Remote Learning (Online and Hybrid Classroom)

As classroom technologies continue to advance, more instructors are utilizing video and audio recordings of class sessions and student participation. Classroom technologies also include any digital platform(s) to engage in student group discussions and/or one-to-one discussions.

Use of Digital Platform(s)

The instructor may use the UT Dallas’ authorized digital platform(s) to engage enrolled students in the class for instruction purposes. The digital platform includes but is not limited to the following: electronic board discussions, electronic group chats, teleconferences, and/or video conferences to conduct student group discussions.

The instructor may engage in one-to-one discussions with the enrolled student(s) through teleconferences (e.g. telephone conferences/conversations) and/or video conferences by adhering to the FERPA UTDSP5010 to determine the student’s appropriate personal identifiable information.

Students must adhere to the Social Media Use outlined in the UT Dallas Syllabus Policies and Procedures in that they cannot impersonate or represent any person other than themselves or be subject to disciplinary actions for violating the Student Code of Conduct.

Class Recordings (video and/or audio)

Depending on the use of these class recordings, they may constitute educational records that are protected under FERPA.

If the recording of a classroom lecture or lab includes only the instructor, then it is not a student record and FERPA does not limit its use.

  • The class recording can be used in future courses, shown to non-students or students not enrolled in the class.  The recording, conducted in a live online course, can be shown to non-students or individuals observing the live class.

If the recording of a classroom lecture or lab includes students and it is possible to identify the students, then the student portions are educational records and must adhere to FERPA.

  • ACCESS LIMITED TO CLASS: The instructor may record student participation as long access is limited only to students enrolled in the same class and other officials as needed (TAs, faculty supervisor, Office of Student AccessAbiity to arrange accommodations). This allows enrolled students to view a missed session, to review an earlier session, and/or to view it asynchronously during the semester. Instructors may want to employ a best practice of including information of the recording in the class syllabus. Here is an example:
    • Class sessions may be recorded by the instructor for use by students enrolled in this class. Recordings that contain personally identifiable information or other information subject to FERPA shall not be shared with individuals not enrolled in this course unless appropriate consent is obtained from all relevant students. Class recordings are reserved only for the use of students enrolled in the class and only for educational purposes. Course recordings should not be shared outside of the class in any form without express permission. NOTE: this is a notice only and should not be considered as student consent.
  • ACCESS BEYOND THE CLASSROOM: It is possible to use the class recordings for future classes or show previous recordings from other classes to the current class ONLY if student consent is received or if student personally identifiable information is removed. Please contact the Office of the Registrar at [email protected] for the proper student consent forms and further instructions.

If the instructor leaves UT Dallas, the instructor is still bound by FERPA regarding use of any class recordings and by the terms outlined in this guide.

Class recordings must be stored only on University-approved, password protected devices and systems, such as eLearning.

Please review other UTD or UT System policies or procedures regarding class recordings, such as UTDPP1043, Student Code of Conduct.

If you have a circumstance needing other options, please contact the Office of the Registrar at [email protected].

Final Reminders

Even though FERPA allows disclosure of directory information without student signed consent, FERPA also provides a way for students to opt out of that exception.

When in doubt, do not give out any information. Contact the Registrar’s Office at [email protected] for clarification.

More information about FERPA Policy can be found on the UT Dallas Policy Navigator.

The U.S. Department of Education website for the Family Policy Compliance Office (FPCO) also offers further reading as well as a full copy of the act.

The U.S. Department’s recent guidance on FERPA & Virtual Learning During COVID-19 (PDF) also offers various scenarios and web links to relevant FERPA sections.